Please take a moment to support my friends at Studio Revolt who are working hard to finish the documentary on me and my trip to London Cultural Olympiad 2012.
Read more about the Indiegogo Campaign here. Contribute by Friday May 24, 2013.
Watch the extended trailer of the upcoming documentary “Cambodian Son” here:
Any donation is much appreciated and if you can forward this to others who may be interested – that would be great!
The film has been in development with very little money and solely on the shoulders of Masahiro Sugano as the lone camera man, editor, director, and producer. The film marks a historical moment for both incarcerated individuals and deportees because Kosal Khiev is a man who reformed himself through the power of spoken word poetry and after serving 14 years in a US prison would find himself a celebrated poet at the London Cultural Olympiad in June 2012. Masahiro followed his compelling story since Kosal’s deportation to Cambodia.
Now we need to finish the film and have exhausted everything possible and need to turn to our communities for assistance.
Please help in any way you can and furthermore, please forward these links widely.
Indiegogo Campaign for “Cambodian Son”
The film’s extended trailer can be found here:
More Links to Studio Revolt videos around the issue of deportations visit these links:
My Asian Americana http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=YQxtfCz4B1o
Return to Sender http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Bc9oWFvUQs
Exile Stories#1: Tyna and Zar http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=18bN4OkprnI
Why I Write http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YstoXrrz1Gs
The hour appointed creeps ever closer and I must tell you that this road to London has not been an easy one. Many events have transpired since I’ve last been on here. And many thoughts have come and gone while some thoughts seem to swirl like recurring themes that has always been with me; a sadness beyond description that has been woven into the fabric of my sole existence. The world continues to move at a rapid rate, swooshing about like wild currents filled with multitudes of underlying currents, and I am moving somewhere in between, thrown about, sometimes drowning, sometimes swimming, and sometimes just floating having no idea, and as ever much clueless as to where I will end up. But one thing is clear, this journey and adventure that I have embarked upon is God’s gift, so whatever that is in store for me, I will work towards being in a space to fully accept my own limitations, but also, to not accept not living with purpose.
Life has been an uphill battle and I see now that this hill has always been a climb towards Mount Olympus; where both men and women has risen and fallen through the actions of their own endeavors. Some are thrown so far that getting up seems hopeless, while others continue to rise knowing that each break or fall, they will only heal to be strengthened to the core absolute will of defying life’s failures and turning them into triumphant moments, bursting stones with each and every aching step forward towards victory.
I have also realized that Mt. Olympus is not the pinnacle peak of life, but only a gathering place of wise men and weary travelers determined to renew and strengthen each other. Humbled souls nourishing one another’s bodies and spirit, heart healers who knows how one broken can be. I welcome such a place and I look forward to reaching that clearing and bask in the presence of men and women who know they, too can be slain, lain, beaten, and defeated by the side of a road, invisible to mainstream eyes, but very much visible in the space that occupies them, how he or she also had dreams of grand possibilities but never came to fruition.
In a week’s time come June 23rd I shall make my ascent, taking with me those same hopes and dreams that saw death too early. I hope my words will be smiled upon. I hope my words will echo throughout every landscape of canyons and valleys, alleys, street corners and throughout every stone that yearns to burst with life. I shall tell my story but know that my story is not my own.
Til da Last Daisy dies.. Kosal Khiev
My letter to the President..
Dear Mr. Obama,
My name is Kosal Khiev and i would very much like to tell you my story. I am not sure how to go about this, but i might as well start from the beginning. I was born in a refugee camp by the border of Thailand in 1980. My family was fleeing our war torn country and there i was born. In 1981 we came into the the United States of America and i was raised in E. Bishop street in Santa Ana, California in a low income housing projects. Their were 9 of us in this small 2 bedroom apartment. It was runned down and the neighborhood was very impoverish. So at a young age i was exposed to the seediness of life. Still my family did the best they could. But still traumatized from the horrors of war that had claimed over 1.7 million lives, they did not know how deal with a child that knew nothing of that period. In my eyes i was an American who was very expressive and curious and open but my family was very closed off emotionally to give me the love and attention that i needed. i do not blame them now; although growing up i did hold alot of resentment towards them. so as the inner workings of my family dynamic got worse, i also had gotten worse, making poor decisions after the next. At the age of 13 i was recruited into a gang and there my poor choices continued. At the age of 16 i was charged with attempted murder during a gang related incident. Tried as an adult for my first offense i ended up taking a plea bargain for 16 years 85% with 2 strikes. At the age of 18 after pleading guilty i was sent to prison and there i stayed til i was 31. It was a rough journey, but instead of being swallowed whole as i have seen what prison can do to so many others that were in my same perdicament, i on the other hand refused to be consumed. It was a long process but one day while placed in administrative segregation for over a year and a half for a mutual combat where no one was seriously injured, i came to make a very conscience decision in my life. That i was going to start changing my life and start taking back control of it. I ended up discovering spoken word and i must tell you that spoken word saved my life. It took this angry scared lost kid from the projects and gave me an outlet. it gave me purpose, reason, and a goal in mind. I started to work my way home. Home to my family. Home to my Mom and 3 brother’s and 3 sister’s and my 10 nephews and 5 nieces now 6. I also ended up working my way down to lower minimum security level prisons. With roughly 5 years left in to my prison sentence i was sent to california rehabilitation center in norco california and there i was involved with V.I.S.I.O.N.S Visibility In Support In Our Neighborhoods; an at risk youth program that was placed for the sole purpose to veer the direction of so many troubled youths who were heading down the very same path i had walked. For nearly 3 years i was a part of this program trying to reach as many kids as we can as more continued to come in. I also started to enroll in college courses at Coastline community college taking Sociology, English1A as well as American history at the time which i ended up passing with flying colors. But as all good things comes to an end my end came quickly. Due to over crowding i was transfer out of state with a year left upon parole. Why?, when i was doing so well. but no matter. i took the punches and continued to roll on. With two months left in my sentence i was brought back to California to finish the remainder of my 16 year long sentence. But there i learned and faced more hardships. I learned that i was not Cambodian-American But a Refugee and that my Permanent residence status was not so permanent. And that instead of being sent home after surviving the harsh conditions of prison life and culture, I was to be deported back to Cambodia, a country i have never set foot in. Everything i know and everything i was taught was from America. I had pledge allegiance to our great flag as a symbol of peace, justice, and equality, with the same beliefs as our forefathers once did. So in my mind i could not have comprehended what was happening to me. I felt so betrayed and so sad because all these years i have been surviving and living with the hope that one day i would be re united with my family again but that was not to be the case. I ended up spending another year on top of the 14 years i had just completed in the custody of I.C.E. Immigration Custody Enforcement. The idea that i had no Identity, no country was such a heartbreaking one.
i was placed in limbo with no idea where i will call home. Finally on March 17 2011 i was deported back to Cambodia at the age of 31. Back to what i say? i knew nothing of the culture, nor could i read, or write the language. I had no family that i knew of and to top it off i was deported with no I.D. no passport and no money. How was i to survive? Where was i to go? None of this made sense to me. I was discarded like a piece of trash that no longer held any value.
I had paid my debt to society and yet this added punishment was never included in my sentencing. If i had known i would have never taken my plea. But besides that point i was further taken away from my family. The same family that i have fought so desperately to rejoin after all those years of incarceration.
Mr. Obama, Mr. President please re-unite me and many more like me back to our families. Take a closer look at our histories and records. I made a mistake as a young angry 16 year old kid. I am not that kid any longer. You are a Father and you have a family. What if you were separated by those you love for a mistake you made as a child. What would you do? How would you feel? Please find it in your heart to be a real ”Champion of Change” and re-unite me back with my family. I know you are a busy man and i am a very insignificant person on your radar, but i do hope and pray that somehow this letter written in a hole in the wall hotel room in Cambodia has somehow manage to come across your eyes. Thank you Sincerely ONELOVE, Kosal Khiev
Today I break one of the biggest news of my life. It has been an amazing journey so far and never in my wildest dreams I would have thought this all possible. I have been fortunate enough to have met so many amazing people and if it wasn’t for them I would not be here today about to tell you what has lately transpired in my life. I am honored, humbled, and happy to tell you that I have been invited to go to the summer Olympics this june in London as part of the cultural festivities called Parnassus Poetry. The largest gatherings of poets from around the world to showcase our poetry….i am still in awe as I write this. 205 countries 205 poets and I am to represent Cambodia on an international stage. Will I do Cambodia justice. I hope so. For so long Cambodia has been struggling to get back on that stage. The last time we were put on an international stage it was to let the whole world know what was happening here as millions were being slaughtered but now in this present time Cambodia has manage to heal her wounds and I feel that she is strong enough with culture to be placed back on that stage. And let me tell you how joyous I am to know that I will be a part in cambodias growth as a developing country.
From the very gutters of earth to being an Olympian among a community I thought I would never have a chance to be a part of is now materializing right before my very eyes. This past year I had quit my secure job as a projectionist in legend cinema to focus more on my dreams of being a spoken word artist. At certain point I had doubted my decision. I was homeless for over a month..support came from family and friends that believed in me..but let me tell you..there were points when I just wanted to give up and throw the towel in. I even thought about asking for my job back. But im glad I didn’t..i couldn’t..too much was at stake. The unknown lied ahead but I was determined to see it through and now London is in sights. Thank you Masahiro Sugano for taking the time to listen to my story, and for believing that it was a story worth telling and for your friendship, love, and support. Anida Yoeu Ali, Bong thank you so much for pushing me and having the patience to teach me about this brand new world and welcoming me into your family. You guys are the best..Studio Revolt seems fit as we continue to revolutionize the industry of film and poetry and performing arts and how it can be access and viewed. I am extremely blessed by both of you and what you have given me. I will not disappoint you nor to you my dear readers..to my mom and family and closest friends..skies the limit from here!!! I love you guys!! Thank you for your unconditional love and for you faith and belief in me. And to all my fans and supporters, without you all I am nobody. Thank you for taking the time to listen and share..thank you so much because truly I do all that I do for you. Reach for you dreams if you have one..and don’t let anyone tell you that you’re not good enough or that it will never happen. Just take me as an example and you will know that anything in life is possible..ONELOVE, Kosal
First let me say Happy Khmer New Years to all those who are celebrating it.
To be truthful and honest to the moment let me say that as of this moment i have this huge headache..i feel the pressure…the responsibilities of being who i am. and i am at a lost as to what to write for this blog. I will try my best to be as honest as possible. As you all know as of late i have been struggling with myself..battling past demons and mistakes and the loneliness i feel within as it echoes throughout the confines of my soul. I have been wading through this muck of a mire..treading..stumbling..falling..but i refuse to lay there..for some reason i keep getting back up..people tell me i should get up for myself..that i should love myself that i should take care of myself..which i sometimes agree..but it is through the ones i love where i am able to gather my strength from..i get up cause it is just not me..no man is an island.i get back up cause the weight and ghost of my past will not let me rest.
.asianways..this past new years has been an adventure for sure. I was able to take a trip to thailand which was a great opportunity to see what else is out there..and now i wish to travel..to explore and stand at the very places where i have only read about or seen in movies..this year of the dragon is very significant indeed. at one point i was homeless for about a month but with the help of family and friends i have been able to save enough money to rent a place. i would talk more about that but those emotions would be better expressed if you were to hear me through spoken word..in the meantime i am busy writing and memorizing and preparing for what lies ahead. Let me take this opportunity to thank Studio Revolt, Masahiro Sugano and Anida Yoeu Ali for having patience with me and your belief and for all the wisdom and experience that you both have manage bestow upon me. None of this would be possible if it wasnt for you love and support. Everyone stay tune to what we have next in store for you..its going to be huge..!!!! ONELOVE, Kosal
To my fellow brother’s and sister’s, Mother’s and Father’s, son’s and daughter’s, let me say; first and foremost that i owe you my life, and to the Greatest of God, I owe you my soul should you choose to redeem me. My 32 birthday has come and gone and many things have took shape. This creative path of building life through words has been quite a journey. Full of ups and downs,while my emotions have been swimming through turbulent currents, never resting. many things have passed and i have been dealing with a variety of internal struggles. My past is ever prevalent. How do i escape it. How do i break free. And though i know i have accomplished much this past year, I feel a failure unworthy of anything that i have done. so a quick update: we lost the white house initiative video challenge even though we clearly won and had the most votes by far!! which i would like to thank all of you for taking the time to vote and share. Giving someone’s some of your time is the most precious things you can give in life..so sincerely, i am humbly in your gratitude. But how do i feel about losing to the same system over and over again. I am angry and sad and frustrated for a system that continues to throw away a person..a HUMAN BEING! like garbage thrown in the ash dirt roads. we were dropped and left to rot. one flight from tacoma washington to lax then thai airways to bangkok to Phnom Penh with no id, no passport and no money and placed in the hands of immigration authorities and say here you go, live.. survive..after 31 years in a country i only know to a county i have never literally stepped foot in.14 years i paid my debt to society and most importantly the debt i continue to pay for myself..and when home and family was so close i was ripped away and thrown to the gauntlet to be forgotten..Exiled to this Kingdom Of Wonder.but NO! i will not be silent! but in not being silent i have taken on a leadership role that was not sought. the weight bears heavy on me and i grow weary and tired. Tired of fighting, fearful and doubtful of every decision..learning and processing while trying to survive and trying to make a sustainable living of what i do. I am a spoken word artist and i love poetry..because poetry and spoken word saved my life.I know i was created to be a voice but voice for what? I am just crying out in hopes that someone out there that’s also lost can cry out and maybe just maybe we can find each other to really make a change..a difference..to be the beginning ripple of something courageous and honorable. these past weeks i have been living nomadic, lost, scared but determined,and hopeful,that with each new day there is still something that i have yet seen..or learn or create. i will tell you this..at one point in this journey i felt hopeless and many dangerous thoughts came to mind…but if it wasnt for people i know to people who have kindly responded to my body of work..thank you for reaching out and crying out along with me. My dear family, friends and friend , you know who you are.. truly you are Kings and Queens!! Thank you for being there when i needed someone to talk to. . thank you for throwing out your rafters when i was drowning in my own loneliness…and to those who have been there or is going through that same place now..you are not alone. fight rise and cry til tears are your weapons of love and forgiveness..Onelove, Kosal
To those who are following my blogs as well as my body of work, let me tell you how truly bless i feel to know that you are out there reading and listening and sharing your comments and thoughts.It is such a relief to know that i am not alone in feeling the way i do and in expressing what i feel. Thank you truly from the bottom of my heart. This journey so far has been quite a long, hard, and arduous trek that i have unwittingly embarked upon. Scars, blood, tears as well as the wrinkled lines of laughter has seemingly been etched on me and into me and through me. And as i sit here trying to string along thoughts and feelings to you, i must try to convey the depth at which i feel for you and all those who are reading my words. Let me say this.. I come from a place of love borne from the darkest of depths. My 32 birthday is coming up on march 12 and i have a feeling of mixed emotions. This will be the marking of a new me. My first birthday as a free man since the age of 16 ,but to be honest, even as a kid my birthday has never held any special significant meaning. I do feel that the turning of this calendar date will signify for me a coming to my own, with the freedom to love and aspire to something beyond simple greatness but something that will endure through the ages of time. I hope and continue to pray that you all will continue in this journey with me. Thank you dearly for being who you are. Together we can stand on the precipice of change and move as one with Onelove. ONELOVE,Kosal Khiev
(Jan 13, 2012)
Full audio version of the PUC Radio Talk Show (1 hour, 30mins)
TO LISTEN CLICK HERE http://www.eyefromthesky.net/KEA/Kosal_PUC_Radio_Jan11_2012.mov
This past Wednesday on Jan 11 I was invited by the Royal Princess Ms. Soma Norodom to be a guest appearance on PUC Radio Talk Show. My first reaction was wow… really? I felt so honored and blessed to know that the work that I’m doing along with the help and support of my family and friends is being recognized. In all honesty I was extremely nervous but Ms. Soma was very easy going and right away she made me feel really comfortable. I mean here I am, a kid who spent most of his young adult life in prison for a very poor choice as a teenager. Now I am sitting in front of a real live royal princess sharing with her and the listeners the story of my life among other things. That moment filled me with so much love and appreciation for where I am in life. For so many years I have dreamt dreams of one day doing what I love and being able to be in a position to share my message of love and hope. And to be asked to be on the only English speaking radio shows in Cambodia was a dream come true. I really felt like an exiled King who has now come into another certain kind of royalty in exiledom. One ruled with love and honor and respect with an outlook of the deepest appreciation for life.
I hope everyone enjoyed the experience and was touched by it as I was. If I can change the perception and view of one person on how they have viewed themselves and the world around them with my story then I do consider myself blessed and fortunate. This is just the beginning and I can feel it within my bones, we are on the precipice of a conscious global change, here in Cambodia as well as with the world abroad and I am proud humbled and honored to be a part of creating creativity in creation.
(Jan 13, 2012)
For the past month and a half on every Thursday Ryan Danger Tong and I have been teaching creative writing at A New Day Cambodia. We started off with one class and now we have expanded to 2 classes with two different learning levels. A third class is being talked about in incorporating visual arts since that is also one of my loves. Let me tell you that these kids are amazing and the only thing I’m having trouble with are their names. J They are very smart and quick witted. I have found myself challenging them with the speed and depth with what they are learning and to my surprise and amazement they are rapidly increasing their vocabulary and what they are able to retain. Wow!
My goal is to develop them into articulate well spoken Khmer men and women who can string complex thoughts together and can be social with the world abroad. This week we talked about the journey written by Mary Oliver and together we broke down her poem. After, I ask them about their own journey and to see their life as one. Right now they are students but in 5 years from now where would they like to go or be and with asking that question I think it sparked something within them; that they can become whoever they wish to become.
We also talked about imagination because I wanted them to start thinking outside the box. It wasn’t easy but I was able to explain using metaphors which they finally got. If you’re thinking I wonder what method he used to teach imagination? Well if you’re interested in my process of creative writing and teaching methods feel free to contact me through the website.
By Kosal Khiev
So this past week me and my brother and friend Ryan Danger Tong volunteered our time to teach creative writing, spoken word performing arts at a childrens home called A New Day Cambodia which btw was an amazing experience.
Also this past week i was offered a position to teach at another children’s home called HOPE whose kids were adorable and so polite and full of joy. So my vision is to connect the kids through the performing arts or even visual; weather it be through dancing, theater, song, or poetry, these kids can learn and grow from one another. The final picture would be a summit for different children’s home who can come together and showcase their respective arts. And in turn building a community to say that you are not alone. You do not have to accept the circumstances that life have dealt you but you can find your voice and your identity and take your place in the world knowing you was put here to make a difference, a gift to be share in the present. Compassion, Kindness, Empathy. The kids are our future my dear brother’s and sister’s. Lets TEACH, EDUCATE, & MOTIVATE. This is a goal and a dream. Who’s with me in trying to make this a reality?